Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Two pieces of interesting news from the weekend:

A general in the Spanish army was placed under house arrest after he warned that if proponents of autonomy went too far with the Catalan Statute, the army would be forced to intervene. And a man in his 60s was killed when his car accidentally hit a gitana girl as she crossed the street, injuring her lightly. Her family, upon witnessing the accident, ran into the street and shot the driver eleven times.

There, in one news cycle, two constant themes of Spanish history and myth: the rebellious military, the violent Gypsies. The last time the army threatened revolt was in 1981, when a band of generals shot up the Congress of Deputies in an attempted coup. At the time, it was terribly frightening: Franco had been in the ground for fewer than 6 years and the prospect of a return to dictatorship or civil war seemed very real. But these days, "ridiculous" seems to be the general opinion of Lieutenant General Mena's threats regarding the Statute.

Not so the public outcry regarding the murder of Gaspar García in Sevilla. The Union Romani and other Gypsy organizations have been inundated with slur-filled emails and threatening phone calls. Some perceptions, it seems, are more resilient, like weeds.

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